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Getting LEA to fund an Independent School

HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
edited September 2014 in Education and learning
Hi. I've found myself in the throws of trying to find a new placement for my son quite urgently. The State Special Needs Schools aren't coping and I have found an independent school that I believe would be the most appropriate. Now I've been told by all professionals to get prepared for a fight for funding. Are there any parents out there who have been through the process and can give me any tips to have ready for my appeals? I've started a diary and listed 8 pages of reasons why his current school is not appropriate and his consultant is writing what she feels he requires.....1-2-1 and a specialised unit. Anyone been there? Done that? Got the placement?

Replies

  • Natasha BrownNatasha Brown Posts: 112Member Courageous
    get current school to back you upa s to why tehy not coping and why putting in extra resources there would not help.
    get proposed school to say how they can emet his needs (or lsit your reaaons)
    visit otehr LEA schools in and out of bough and lsit why they not suitable (put in tabular format)
    then arrange an informal meeting with your LEA officer to lay it all out informally and calmly.

    having informal face to face meetings with LEA officer can pave the way forward.and give you the lay of the land. so before the formal review meetings etc get all evidence together and ask for an informal meeting first to disucss openly and see where LA objectiosn might lie and what they proposing.

  • Natasha BrownNatasha Brown Posts: 112Member Courageous
    sorri typos - in and out of borough. you need to do your homework - i gave lsit of criteria for my son and which schools could and couldnt meet them - if you present a simple table of eg son's specific needs and across top names of schools and tick boxes which ones can and cant meet them - so clealry your proposed school will tick all boxes and the others will only tick some.

    eg needs one to one
    needs specialists in xx or yyyy
    needs small classes
    needs acces to hydro pool
    needs xxxxx

    think of whole range of things
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Natasha thank you. I love the idea of a tick list of pros and cons. The LEA case worker has been extremely supportive and we have had many deep discussions which she admits are not being addressed in my son's statement and need changing. Which so far has been very straight forward, as I have had SALT, consultants, social services and school's individual reports all to hand and copied over to LEA. The schools failure to meet my son's needs and action his statement is obvious. It's trying to explain to LEA that just because it's in the statement doesn't seem to have any power for the parents that the school HAVE to action it. Do I really want to prosecute a school because they are not giving OT, physio, SALT or actioning reviews correctly?
  • AlistairAlistair Posts: 120Member
    Heather, I am currently trying to get my daughter into a school as a weekly boarder (I'm her sole carer and we are finding it really hard as she becomes a young woman). Have you heard of IPSEA? They gave me advice and put me in touch with a solicitor. You can contact them on 0800184016. Good Luck
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Hi Alistair. IPSEA have been very good at preparing me for a fight! They have armed me with the guidelines and set out my plan of attack. If the school admitted they were failing my son, I would have a better chance. But they have said, they are appropriate for his needs! Appropriate and good/right are miles apart!!!!!!!!!!!
  • AlistairAlistair Posts: 120Member
    Hi Heather. We know what's best for our children but trying to get 'them' to understand that is just an uphill battle (I had to choose my words wisely then!).
    Who is giving you the most grief; education or social services? I'm no expert but I think you some how try to need to get them to talk to each other. I'm just at the start of my journey to get what is best for my daughter, but have already lost my job due to the time I have to take off to care for her.
    I'm glad IPSEA 'armed' you. Good Luck!
  • AndrewAndrew Posts: 3Member
    Hi,

    Sorry to hear of your struggles. We've been through this process.

    Just to repeat what I put on my previous post to someone else about statements.

    A child under the age of 18 is eligible for legal aid. If you can find a solicitor prepared to take the case on for you, then they will handle a lot of the leg work. Also, they bring with them experience and contacts.

    We used Irwin Mitchell. They were excellent, but my understanding is that they don't always take these cases on. Depends on the solicitors they have available and workload.

    There was no cost to us as the legal aid scheme covered the bills. In any case, we only needed 3 meetings with the solicitors and a couple of letters before the authorities started to come round.

    One final thing, don't assume that the local authority is on your side. Unfortunately for their employees, they do have quotas and budgets and whilst you will be open with them, they will not always be open with you.

    http://www.irwinmitchell.com/servicesforyou/adminpubliclaw/Disabilitylaw/Pages/default.aspx

    Spell out every detail in the statement. Particularly the staffing ratios, specialised therapies and a detailed timetable, broken down into at most 15 minute chunks.

    Also, speak to both schools. Again, don't assume the local authority school is on your side. They work closely with the LEA.

    Your school of choice may have seen similar issues previously and may be able to advise, although they will be wary of upsetting the local authority as they have to maintain a working relationship with them.

    Good luck
  • kettleyjkettleyj Posts: 7Member
    I agree IPSEA are fantastic and have printable downloadable letters and resources. Tey are currently helping me to take my LEA to Tribunal over refusal to assess my son who is Dyslexic, Dyspraxic and has Meares Irlens. The LEA won't like it but just fight fight fight.
    Best Wishes
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Wow I had never thought of legal aid assistance for our case! Brilliant advice, thank you! Things reached crisis point and we have had to withdraw our son from school on medical grounds, he had a nervous breakdown. LEA are now busy re-addressing every point as medical experts are giving them hell for not listening in the first place. So currently under going a full re-assessment and have reports coming out our ears. If LEA are still budget conscious I have MP already on side. Thank you for high lighting that point.
  • cancer2003cancer2003 Posts: 1Member
    Don't forget to use the Local Goverment Ombusman as well! I am in a very similar position now too :-/
  • kathrynkathryn Posts: 8Member
    Hi,
    sorry to butt in on this one. We tried the legal aid route.
    The law has changed and a child can only get legal aid if the household income is below a certsin level.
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Hi Cancer2003...Did you get the Ombusman involved immediately, or await the LEA to start putting up shutters? I know a friend just won a case with the Ombusmans help, she got compensation...doesn't mean she has a son in a school though. Sad state of affairs. State proved they were failing and yet nothing available to help family even when they have been told they were right to fight.
  • AndrewAndrew Posts: 3Member
    Hi Kathryn,

    That's annoying.

    How long is it since you tried?

    Might be worth mentioning this on Mumsnet as they seem to have some influence over government policy.
  • kathrynkathryn Posts: 8Member
    Hi,
    it was about 6 months ago. I was under the same impression. I contacted the childrens legal centre and was told by them.
  • dillyduckdillyduck Posts: 2Member
    I had similar problems a long time ago. If you know which school you want your son to go to, then ask them for help too - I'm still in touch with my son's old school and they have gathered together a lot of information in how to get funding for their school.
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Hi. I will try and write this message without too much screaming for joy! BUT YES! Finally, we have been told our son's needs can not be met in a state special needs school and the education board have budgeted for him to go to the Independent Specialist Autistic school of our choice. He can't go until Oct'12...but after 8 months of **** to finally be able to say "Told you so!" is so sweet. By the time our son re-adjusts he would probably have lost out on a year's education. A sad reflection of the shambles of an education system. But if we have been successful, I hope it gives hope to a few more out there suffering the same. Good luck
  • AlistairAlistair Posts: 120Member
    Well done!
    I'm really pleased for you. Tenacity pays off! I fear I have still a long way to go. Please let us know how your son, and your family, cope with the changes.
  • AlistairAlistair Posts: 120Member
    Hi Heather, I'm really sorry to hear that your son is still not at school. It must be very frustrating for you all.
    I have not got any further with getting my daughter into the school where I just know she would thrive. She needs a 24 hour curriculum and the support of young females. We are finding it really hard coping with her cycles. She hates involving me (says: you're a man and don't understand women's things!) but really does need support at times. She copes quite well but, as with most things (like getting dressed - don't start me on bras!-), if something goes a bit wrong she can't problem solve her way out of it. Also her hormones sometimes result in some very challenging behaviour. Thinking about talking to our local LD CPNs about this but am about worried about taking a medical route.
    I'm not at all happy about her respite carer but, to be fair, she doesn't really mind going there. But I think that is because she is not challenged to do very much, staying in her comfort zone of princes DVDs and ......well, as far as I can tell, that's about it.
    As for me, I think, at last, I am coming out of my depression. I might even go and visit my sister this weekend. I've been isolating myself but have been out walking recently (my medicine).
    I hope you son starts school soon, you did say October didn't you? And your daughter's words have really moved me, hope she's OK.
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    Hi Alistair, you are sounding much more in control...well done you! It is draining having my little one home 24/7, but at least I know he is safe and happy. A far cry when things were going wrong at school. The LEA are just not committing to a start date, save a few more quid I suppose? As for your daughter at home, GP might be able to assist with a hormone supplement, just to iron out the peaks and troughs of her mood swings? Always worth asking. Afraid I've got to run. Take care of yourself. x
  • AlistairAlistair Posts: 120Member
    Hi Heather, How can one be in control where people are involved? See 'Dads Talk'!
  • HeatherHeather Posts: 188Member Listener
    We are finally on the 5th day at my son's new school. Only 2 hours a day and he will build up to full time for the New Year. No huge fall outs, a lot of wetting himself and some tantrums when he is tired. Initially we saw some panic attacks, but they have ebbed away and he seems cautious, but accepting of the change. The School have been thrilled by his approach. Their first goals are to try and get him to enter a room with other pupils, then they will work on the play ground....could be a 6 month project for them! The Ombudsman is looking into the shambles of a system we experienced in getting our son back into education. There's a huge job there to keep them busy! And when they asked us what we wanted to achieve from our complaint i said "To stop the education board putting other parents through the stress we suffered" Her reply "IN YOUR DREAMS!"
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